Fighting for Workplace Justice

Fighting for Workplace Justice

Employee Discrimination at Large Companies in San Francisco

Brandon Banks Law, APC, proudly represents victims of sexual harassment, discrimination, and wrongful termination in workplaces across the San Francisco area. When you work at a large company in California, it can be intimidating to stand up against your employer (or former employer) if you have been harassed, discriminated against or wrongfully terminated. However, you have certain rights and protections. When the company or one of your co-workers violates these rights, our team will be there to support you. To learn more about your options in this situation, contact us today for a free consultation.

Do you need a lawyer to file a workplace harassment or wrongful termination case?

When you feel like you’re being mistreated at work, going into the office can be soul crushing. But not every instance of mistreatment rises to the level of harassment and discrimination, or even requires a lawyer. At the same time, it can sometimes be difficult to know what’s annoying workplace behavior and what is grounds for a lawsuit.

The same is true for wrongful termination cases. While it might be unfortunate that you were released from your position, there are certain criteria that must be met in order to file a wrongful termination case.

In either case, when you work for or have been terminated by a large company in California, the thought of standing up to them can be intimidating. It is incredibly helpful to have an experienced employment lawyer build your case and advocate for your fair treatment and compensation.

Give Brandon Banks Law a call to schedule a free evaluation. We will help you determine whether or not you have legal standing to pursue a claim against your employer.

What Counts as Harassment or Discrimination?

Both sexual harassment and discrimination can cover a wide variety of potential scenarios. Some forms of harassment are overt and easily identifiable. Others are subtle that seem to add up over time. Some instances might take place in public around the water cooler. Others might take place behind closed doors without any witnesses. Regardless of how, when, or where harassment happens, it has no place in California workplaces.

Sexual harassment

Many employees who experience sexual harassment at work hesitate to report it, especially if their experience doesn’t match what they’ve seen in movies or on TV. However, sexual harassment in the workplace can take many forms beyond physical contact, including:

  • Crude jokes
  • Sexual innuendos
  • Lewd remarks
  • Commenting on your or someone else’s body
  • Sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Sharing sexually suggestive materials
  • Sending inappropriate texts or emails
  • Inappropriate touching


Racial discrimination

Along similar lines, racial discrimination at work can be tricky, as employers and employees rarely admit to it openly. However, there are signs to watch for, including:

  • Racially charged jokes or comments
  • Being passed over for job opportunities
  • Facing retaliation for reporting discrimination
  • Lack of promotion or hiring despite qualifications
  • Failure to address the discrimination


How Does California Define Wrongful Termination?

California is an “at-will” state for employers and employees. This means that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason, or no reason at all as long as it is not the result of some protected motivations. However, there are some unique circumstances that could give rise to a wrongful termination lawsuit. These include some of the following:

  • Being in a Protected Class: An employer is not permitted to illegally fire an employee just because they are part of a protected class, including but not limited to their race, national original, sexual orientation, sex, religious affiliation, gender identity, medical condition, veteran status, citizenship status, and other related aspects. If an employer retaliates against you because of your protected class, because you filed a harassment complaint, or you testified in a lawsuit regarding discrimination, you have the right to file a claim.
  • Being a Whistleblower: These terminations occur when an employer fires their employee for reporting a workplace’s violation of a law to a government agency. Under Labor Code 1102.5 LC, you have the right to report a suspected violation of the law without the concern of being fired from your workplace.
  • Implied Contract Situations: Implied contracts are agreements between two parties even if there is no documented written contract on file. In these situations, an employer agrees that they will not fire an employee without good cause.
  • Retaliation to Sexual Harassment Complaint: Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal. If you were sexually harassed by an employer or employee and you filed a complaint that led to a firing, you have protections.
  • Public Policy: You could have a wrongful termination claim if you refused to follow your employer’s orders to do something illegal in the workplace and they fired you because of it. In many of these cases, criminal fraud laws are at play.
  • Filing Workers’ Compensation Claim: In California, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If you filed a workers’ comp claim because you were injured on the job and you were fired because of a retaliating employer, you have grounds to a wrongful termination lawsuit.
  • Taking Leave: Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you have certain protections regarding your leave. If you were fired within 30 days of using paid sick leave or within 90 days of returning from FMLA leave, you may have a claim.
  • Mass Layoff Without Notice: California’s Worker Retraining and Notification (WARN) Act states that employers are supposed to provide employees with 60 days’ notice of closing a facility or conducting a mass layoff of more than 50 employees. If they have not given you notice and you were fired, you may be able to make a wrongful termination claim.


Protected Classes of Employees

In California, every worker has a legal right to a workplace free of harassment and discrimination of any kind. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides this legal protection to workers with certain “protected characteristics” like their:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age
  • Color
  • National origin

Under this law, you’re protected against sexual harassment, discrimination, and wrongful termination at your workplace. But sometimes things happen that leave you or others feeling uncomfortable. What separates these scenarios from unsavory to a legal problem is the following:

  • First, it has to be motivated by certain characteristics you have (such as your race)
  • Second, your employer (through your supervisor, human resources, or someone in charge) has to be made aware of your treatment and take some sort of action to address the issue.
  • Third, there has to be some form of “retaliation” from your employer. This could be things like being demoted, having your pay cut, receiving less desirable shifts, or outright fired.

With these elements established, you can start thinking about your potential legal options.

Legal Options for Harassment, Discrimination, or Wrongful Termination

When facing sexual harassment or racial discrimination at your workplace, you have several legal options at your disposal. While it takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your abuser and management, it’s a necessary step to protect yourself and other workers. Generally, your legal options include:

  • Filing a Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) Complaint – The DFEH is the state agency responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. By filing a complaint with the DFEH, you initiate an investigation into the hostile work environment. If the investigation finds merit in your claim, the DFEH may issue an order requiring your employer to remedy the situation.
  • Filing an EEOC Complaint – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency tasked with enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws. Similar to filing with the DFEH, lodging a complaint with the EEOC triggers an investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment. If the EEOC finds evidence of wrongdoing, they may pursue legal action on your behalf or issue a right-to-sue letter, allowing you to move forward with a civil lawsuit.
  • Filing a lawsuit – Filing a civil lawsuit provides you with the opportunity to seek financial support–like lost wages, lost benefits, emotional distress–for the harm caused by the company. Additionally, a civil lawsuit brings public attention to the issue, potentially prompting broader changes within your workplace culture and policies.


Evidence for Workplace Harassment Claims

Regardless of which option you choose, the relative strength of your claim is going to rest on the evidence. In certain situations, this can be difficult. It’s not always easy to have documented evidence of crude verbal humor or a racial joke. Still, there’s always markers that you can draw on when you’re in one of these situations. So, some of your evidence could be things like:

  • Text messages
  • Social media messages and posts
  • Pictures or videos
  • Witness statements
  • Emails or other official correspondence with your employer
  • Pay documents
  • Work schedules and calendars

One of the most important things to remember is that you have a certain deadline by which you need to file a lawsuit. In California, you have two years from the date of the retaliation or firing. This means that you have to act quickly to be able to explore your legal options.

Brandon Banks Employment Law Process

  • First, we’ll have a free initial meeting where I’ll look at the facts and circumstances of your situation, then explain your rights and the process.
  • If you want to move forward, I’ll help you gather evidence to support your claim.
    My team and I will investigate what’s happening to you, figuring out who’s responsible.
  • I’ll help you through the actual claims process, whether you want to file an administrative claim or full lawsuit.

Again, our overall goal is to make things easier for you. We work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that there’s no upfront cost to working with us.

Damages Available in Employee Discrimination Case

In a workplace harassment or discrimination case, several types of damages are available if you’re able to effectively prove your claim. Here’s a breakdown of some key damages that are available:

  • Lost income – If harassment or discrimination results in missed work days, demotions, or reduced hours (as it normally does), you can potentially recover these lost wages. This includes both current and future earnings that you would have received if not for the adverse actions taken against you.
  • Loss of benefits – Workplace harassment or discrimination can also lead to the loss of certain benefits such as health insurance, retirement contributions, or bonuses.
  • Emotional distress – When you endure harassment or discrimination, it usually has a significant emotional impact on you, including anxiety, depression, and trauma. These damages cover this emotional distress, addressing the psychological toll inflicted by the harmful behavior.
  • Pain and suffering – Sometimes, harassment and discrimination can carry physical and mental pain. These damages cover the physical pain, humiliation, and mental anguish you went through.
  • Attorney’s fees – As with any claim, there’s going to be legal fees associated with pursuing a claim. If your claim ends up being successful, these damages will cover our fees and other court costs that come with the process.

Going through the legal process in this situation is undeniably difficult. It takes courage to stand up to any employer, especially one with the wealth and resources of some of the bigger companies in California. Brandon Banks is not intimidated, and you don’t have to be either.

California’s Largest Employers

Discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination can take place at any workplace across the country. It is incredibly common, and you are not alone. This is also true for some of California’s largest employers. Even though there are SOPs in place to safeguard against employee wrongdoings, some bad players still go against policy and violate workers’ rights.

Some of California’s largest employers* include:

  • Amazon
  • Alphabet Inc
  • Amgen
  • Cisco
  • Ebay
  • Levi Strauss
  • Netflix
  • Disney
  • LAX
  • Intel
  • Chevron
  • Broadcom

*This list is for informational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not imply or accuse any of the above named companies of harassment, discrimination, or wrongful termination.

 Contact a California Employment Lawyer

At Brandon Banks Law, we support any worker that’s facing harassment or discrimination at your workplace. Our team fights for our clients, making sure to hold those responsible accountable for allowing such mistreatment. We’ll be there to guide you through your legal options, help with complaints, and seek the financial support you need under the law. Don’t tolerate harassment or discrimination. Contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can help you.